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Badass original art by Make It Snow
Being a kid, then teenaged Broncos fan in the 1980s/early 1990s was a rollercoaster ride, to put it mildly. The Drive and The Fumble provide about as much joy as one can possibly experience in a sports setting. Yeah, it was just at the expense of The Factory, but still really fucking cool. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl always happened. And this was an era of NFC dominance. And the ultraconservative Dan Reeves was Denver’s coach again and again and again. Plus…Denver usually had no defense, or much in the way of a credible running game to take any real pressure off Elway (or do anything other than set up 3rd and long in Reeves’ predictable playcalling). So a certain young Hippo would kick in closet doors, take long, angry walks to get away from irritating college suitemates, the one year Denver DID have good complementary pieces, but lost 10-7 in the AFC title game at Buffalo when Reeves refused to pull a clearly injured John Elway until it was too late.
That game featured a near-miraculous comeback engineered by Gary Kubiak, Denver’s 7th round choice in 1983 (the same draft the Colts took Elway 1st overall). Elway was the only teammate who knew Kubiak planned to retire after that playoff run. Had Reeves given Kubes the entire 4th quarter like I had been screaming at the television…oh damn it all to fuck, I’m pissed off all over again. Anyway, I had a point at one time in my drivel. Besides the return to the fold of the boyishly handsome (sorry Jared, he’s a fully grown adult) Gary Kubiak as head coach, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. LOVE TEH KUBES!!
Oh yeah…being a 39-year old QB is a tough row to hoe. Fairy tale endings are few and far between. Bronco fans are spoiled because of what we got for our horse-faced idol, once the orange-faced coach and beastly demi-God Terrell Davis rode into town. Good Karma for all the hits he took, all the SHIT he took, Reeves drafting TOMMY GODDAMNED MADDOX to try to phase Elway out…John got to end his career on his own terms, with back to back Super Bowl wins, including a Super Bowl MVP after thrashing Reeves’ hapless Falcons (who had no choice but to stack the box against TD).
And speaking of spoiled…after a decade or so of QB limbo (though, quite frankly, Catler was pretty good…just, you know…CATLER)…PeyPey goes and chooses Denver for his comeback tour, to excise the Tebowian stink from my beloved franchise. Two all-time Top Ten QBs in such a short span of time…that’s some damned good luck, especially having drafted neither of them.
You hit the lottery twice, and many Donks faithful started planning the parade in our heads, forgetting both the maths and the simple fact that life shits in your mouth more often than not. PeyPey has put up pinball numbers in the regular season, only to find Reeves-era Elway heartbreak in January, in the process often looking like a man that can’t feel his fingertips in the blustery Colorado weather (which he, in fact, cannot). Yet it was his quad, not his robot neck that sprung a leak last December, paving the way for the cheating goddamned Patriots to waltz to another Lombradi trophy, and setting up this one last gallup for our gallant, robotic, pizza-shilling warrior.
This pre-season has not looked promising for the past-warranty parts. But much like Elway’s last ride, the rest of the team looks ready to pick up the slack. If PeyPey can just get hot at the right time…
First, CJ Anderson, meet the zone blocking scheme. Zone blocking scheme, meet CJ Anderson. You’re going to fucking like each other. A lot. Terrell Davis taught even the most slack-jawed Denver fan to appreciate greatness in a running back when we see it. Especially “off the scrap heap” greatness. Enter CJ, with quickness, deceptive speed (for a black guy ,, no ofence), and delightful power. Unlike Montee Ball (pile of monkeyshit), he is decisive – the key to success in this system. He’s also gonna catch passes this season. Being the great interview that he is, CJ noted that it would “almost be disrespectful to Kubiak’s system” if he didn’t have a huge year. If they don’t split carries too much (change of pace with Hillman, goal line with Juwan Thompson – who’s a very good back in his own right, and who I would handcuff as the “every down” alternative), you could be looking at a fantasy monster, though Denver is a fickle mistress that way.
Second, the offensive line – once expected to be truly horrifying, looks to be perhaps average! Huzzah!! Elway somehow got PeyPey to take a $4M pay cut before the season, and used that scrilla to bring in all-pro LG Evan Mathis ($4M is the max with incentives, base salary is $2.5M). Mathis required more than the $5.5M guaranteed he was slated to make in order to suffer through another season of Chip Kelly. Pretty shrewd business by Elway and co. This frees up 4th round draft pick Max Garcia (who looks like he might be really good) to be the “swing” interior lineman, a very positive development because the rest of Denver’s interior “depth” looks to be fucking garbage. Louis Vasquez is an excellent RG, and Matt Paradis has been average-to-good at center, so I’m only really worried about our tackles at this point.
Other that that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Make it Snow, Moose, and other Donks faithful may remember my draft Saturday ranting and raving for Denver to draft La’el “Murder Guy” Collins in the 2nd round, then REALLY LOUDLY when he was still there in the 3rd. Instead, we took a shitty TE from Ohio State who blew out his ACL before training camp. Murder Guy will start at RT for the 2015 NFC Champion Cowboys.
Sigh. PeyPey still has a wide array of targets, led by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders (but including lots of interesting TE/H-back types) who can take quick passes and seam routes and break for big gains, even if the tackles/PeyPey’s arm don’t call for many fly routes. I am in the bargaining stage, SHUT UP!!
Moving on, let’s talk defense! Elway has a simple philosophy here, and it’s worked out pretty well. Dominant, fast pass rush, combined with physical, skilled CBs. Then he pretty much bargain shops and fills in everywhere else. And it works, with the team finding several interesting rotational linebackers off the street. Late round/street FA DTs have done just as well as the 1st and 2nd rounders. Nightmare Hipster Von Miller and his young understudy (brilliant 2015 1st round pick Shane Ray) figure to be holy terrors this season, and hopefully the new regime doesn’t burn out Demarcus Ware like last year. But for my money, the best part is still watching Chris Harris and Aqib Talib play. Excellent cover corners who can really tackle in space. Throwback players. I absolutely love them both. Bradley Roby is the 3rd corner, and would be a #1 for 10-15 teams in the league.
That has been the flipside of PeyPey’s somewhat awkward, nervous chuckle-inducing pre-season – the defense has been murder-y, in the the best possible way. Broncos fans, especially on the internet, tend to be kind of stupid and repetitive. So every fucking time the defense shows any sign of improvement, cries of “the Orange Crush is back, baby!” ring out from the Rockies. But this time, it just might be true. For all his shlubbiness as a head coach, Wade Phillips is actually a really good defensive coordinator. Especially when his days of ambition and job-hopping are over. This is probably his last stop on the career train. He’d like to end it with a ring as much as PeyPey would. Especially over Jerry Muthafuckin’ Jones. And make no mistake about it, that’s who awaits if my beloved navy and mango (those be the official colours, I looked it up!) make it to the Big L. Though given my personal history as a fan, I’m not so sure I like the connotation of that phrase.